Based on streaming data, Borat 2's Amazon Prime release pulled in a greater viewership than Disney+ experienced with the release of Mulan.
Recent research revealed that Amazon Prime’s release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s contentions sequel Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm overshadowed the Disney+ premier of Mulan back in September. In classic Borat style, after its release, Baron Cohen’s new movie has been the center of media controversy due to his comedy’s politically incorrect nature. The PG-13 version of Mulan, on the other hand, was much tamer. However, the film still produced controversies that clouded its Disney+ release.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing theaters to close globally, studios have been delaying and reshuffling their release schedules to ensure their movies make a profit. The disappointment in Mulan’s streaming release reinforced other major studios' beliefs that VOD releases do not bring in the necessary gains. On top of their subscription fees, Disney pushed an additional $29.99 payment on subscribers who wanted to watch Mulan. Although Disney experienced some success with Mulan’s release, the movie did not make a profit and was a substantial loss for the studio. In contrast, Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm is available to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, making the movie’s release significantly more accessible.
Variety reports that an estimated 1.6 million U.S. households streamed Borat 2 on Amazon Prime during its opening weekend (Oct. 22-Oct. 25) as opposed to Mulan’s Labor Day Weekend release, which only registered 1.12 million household streams. The estimated numbers are extrapolations provided by TV analytics provider Samba TV. They only track internet-connected TV viewership, so these numbers do not include steams on mobile or website browsers. Additionally, the service quantifies viewership as a minimum of five cumulative minutes of streaming. Regardless of the caveats in their data processing, Samba TV found that 48% of the households that streamed Borat 2 did so on Friday night, Oct. 23. The primary demographic for streaming were homes with men and consumers ages 25 to 44.
Although the data collected may not be precise to the actual streaming results, it still exposes a significant disparity between Borat 2 and Mulan. Including the Borat sequel within the Prime membership costs (and not charging extra) inevitably made the movie more accessible. The decision to release Borat 2 a day early, on the night of the final presidential election, damaged the day-one streams. However, since the upcoming election is directly related to the mockumentary’s controversial content, this relationship makes Borat’s release timing more profitable.
Aside from the two films’ financial accessibility, another element that creates the streaming disparity between them is the movie’s subject matter. Borat 2 is intentional in its political incorrectness, profiting off the controversy it caused, so the release’s timing inevitably aided in viewership. In contrast, Disney’s live-action Mulan was supposed to draw in a nostalgic audience and suffered severe publicity damage during its release. Since Borat: Subsequent MovieFilm is a raunchy and politically incorrect mockumentary, it’s the perfect movie for a streaming release during a period when politics consume American’s lives. The outcomes of these two releases provide a valuable lesson for studios when theaters are shut down.